As Israel struggled to grasp the motive for the brutal murder of six members of the Oshrenko family, including two young children, four MKs from the coalition and the opposition called Monday for the establishment of a death penalty for the murder of children under the age of 13.
The lawmakers - Carmel Shama (Likud), Moshe Matalon (Israel Beiteinu), Arieh Bibi (Kadima) and Arye Eldad (National Union) - are co-sponsoring the bill, which they hope will put the murder of innocent children into a distinct category.
The law would be an amendment to clause 300 of the Criminal Code. The bill's sponsors emphasized that "in light of the revelations of circumstances surrounding the murder of the Oshrenkos, the bill would try to prevent a repeat of circumstances in which people murder babies and children 'just because they resemble their fathers,'" as the suspect in the Oshrenko killings said he did, and that "in extreme circumstances one must act with extreme measures."
"Every murder is horrifying and incomprehensible," said Shama, "but there is something in the murder of helpless and defenseless young children that requires a response, and a unique and extreme punishment. Human life is sacred, but murderers of children are not humans, but rather predatory animals."
Israel had a death penalty until 1954 as part of its criminal code, which dated back to the British Mandate. On November 23, 1950, the Tel Aviv District Court sentenced David Yakobovich to death after he was found guilty of a murder in the city, but the sentence was lifted after the Supreme Court amended his conviction to manslaughter instead of murder. In 1954, the Knesset amended the criminal law to eliminate the death penalty.
The death penalty still exists for a number of treason-related offenses, with the law mandating that the means of execution is death by hanging.
The new bill's sponsors emphasized that it is a myth that the only person ever to receive a death penalty in Israel on civil charges was Adolf Eichmann, the "architect of the Holocaust," who was hanged in 1962 after he was found guilty on 15 charges including crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people and membership in an outlawed organization.
In fact, they said, one person - Yehezkel Ingster - was sentenced to death after being convicted of collaborating with the Nazis, but the sentence was later reduced to a prison term. Similar to the case of Yakobovich, a number of criminals were sentenced to death by hanging in the early years of the state, but none of the executions were carried out.